Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

244896_rgb_768Dakinikat survived Hurricane Zeta and got her power back this morning. I heard the storm also hit Georgia pretty hard; its now headed for North Carolina. I hope you’re safe if you’re in Zeta’s path.

In just five days, voting in the long 2020 election will draw to a close. Joe Biden looks likely to win; but we still have to navigate voter suppression (AKA cheating) by the Trump campaign and the GOP, aided by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the possibility that Trump will try to use the Court to overturn the election results if he loses. Nothing less than the health and safety of the American people will depend on the outcome.

Ed Yong at The Atlantic: America Is About to Choose How Bad the Pandemic Will Get.

In the 2020 election, on top of every routine test of character and capability, the candidates must answer the challenge the coronavirus has brought to this country. Trump’s response has been so lax as to effectively cede the country to a virus whose spread is controllable. He has, by his own admission, repeatedly downplayed the threat after he became aware of how dangerous the new coronavirus could be. He caught the virus himself and seems to have learned nothing from the encounter….

As November nears, the coronavirus is surging again, with cases rising to record-breaking heights for the third time. To control the pandemic, changes are necessary, but Trump has proved that he does not learn from his mistakes—perhaps the most costly of his failings. If he is reelected, he will continue on the same path, and so will the coronavirus. More Americans will be sickened, disabled, and killed. Donald Trump is unchanging; the election offers an opportunity for the country to change instead.

Nick Anderson cartoonThe near-term future is already set. Trump has repeated the lie that numbers are spiking because the U.S. tests extensively; in fact, the climbing cases have far outpaced the rise in testing, and are due instead to the rapidly spreading virus. Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching. Several generations of family members will gather in indoor spaces for prolonged periods of close proximity and spirited conversation—the very conditions in which the coronavirus most readily spreads….

As I wrote last month, there is a real risk that Americans will become habituated to this horror, and that COVID-19 will become another unacceptable thing that the U.S. learns to accept. That is all but inevitable if Trump wins a second term. His administration has given no indication that it will dramatically change its strategy. If anything, it has doubled down. It is allowing the virus to freely spread among younger people in the hopes of reaching herd immunity—an unfeasible strategy that has been widely panned by the scientific community. Such a strategy could leave millions dead, and many others with chronic illness.

It’s quite clear now that Trump has decided to let the virus run rampant, believing falsely that this will lead to “herd immunity.”

The Daily Beast: Trump’s COVID Advisers: He’s Now Pushing Herd Immunity.

Despite publicly downplaying it, President Donald Trump and his team of White House advisers have embraced the controversial belief that herd immunity will help control the COVID-19 outbreak, according to three senior health officials working with the White House coronavirus task force. More worrisome for those officials: they have begun taking steps to turn the concept into policy.

lk102820daprOfficials say that White House adviser Scott Atlas first started pushing herd immunity this past summer despite significant pushback from scientists, doctors and infectious disease experts that the concept was dangerous and would result in far more Americans getting sick and dying. Since then, various White House advisers have tried to play down the idea that the administration has implemented a strategy for COVID-19 based on herd immunity, which holds that if enough people contract a disease and become immune from it, then future spread among the broader population will be reduced.

Trump and Atlas publicly claim that they aren’t pushing this disastrous strategy, but it’s pretty clear that’s what’s happening. Experts say the policy could lead to between 2 and 5 million deaths in the U.S. In addition, many people who survive the Covid-19 develop long-term health problems.

Though Atlas insists he has not pushed “herd immunity,” another official said Atlas actually began advocating for the concept—and the president became receptive to it—at the same time as task force officials were being sidelined from conversations about how the administration planned to handle what many predicted would be a difficult fall season. Since then, officials said, the White House has been largely focused on getting a vaccine out to the American people and has left the fight against the community spread to one task force official: Dr. Deborah Birx. Birx, the White House task force coordinator, has been on the road for months trying to convince Americans to wear masks and social distance.In her absence, and with the task force meeting less regularly, Atlas has thrived as a presidential confidant.

244866_rgb_768“This is all Atlas,” said one of the officials who spoke with The Daily Beast. “I find it disturbing… bordering on ludicrous. Everything that comes out of Atlas’ mouth is geared towards letting it rip and then just worry about protecting the vulnerable. Everything he says points to the fact that he believes herd immunity is a good option. Yet he denies he’s pushing herd immunity as a strategy saying ‘No that’s not what I’m doing.’ But he is.”

The New York Times: Trump’s Closing Argument on Virus Clashes With Science, and Voters’ Lives.

As an immense new surge in coronavirus cases sweeps the country, President Trump is closing his re-election campaign by pleading with voters to ignore the evidence of a calamity unfolding before their eyes and trust his word that the disease is already disappearing as a threat to their personal health and economic well being.

The president has continued to declare before large and largely maskless crowds that the virus is vanishing, even as case counts soar, fatalities climb, the stock market dips and a fresh outbreak grips the staff of Vice President Mike Pence. Hopping from one state to the next, he has made a personal mantra out of declaring that the country is “rounding the corner.”

Mr. Trump has attacked Democratic governors and other local officials for keeping public-health restrictions in place, denouncing them as needless restraints on the economy. And venting self-pity, the president has been describing the pandemic as a political hindrance inflicted on him by a familiar adversary.

“With the fake news, everything is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump complained at a rally in Omaha on Tuesday, chiding the news media and pointing to his own recovery from the illness to downplay its gravity: “I had it. Here I am, right?” [….]

cb102720daprAs a political matter, the president’s approach amounts to an Obi Wan-like attempt to wave his hand before the electorate and tell voters that they are not experiencing a pandemic that is tearing through their neighborhoods and filling hospitals. His determination to brush aside the ongoing crisis as a campaign issue has become the defining choice of his bid for a second term and the core of his message throughout the campaign’s endgame.

This kind of insanity only works with Trump’s brainwashed cult followers. It really does look like Biden will win by a lot, although I won’t be able to let myself believe it until the votes are counted.

Vox: Exclusive: Biden leads Trump by 12 points in a national UT Dallas poll.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by more than 10 points in a national poll by researchers at the University of Texas Dallas. Fielded a few weeks prior to Election Day, the poll is among recent ones finding Biden with a steady lead.

The results, which are part of UT Dallas’s Cometrends survey, found Biden with 56 percent support and Trump with 44 percent support.

The poll — which included 2,500 respondents — is one of several recent surveys showing Biden ahead of Trump at the national level. It was fielded online between October 13 and October 26, with many of the responses coming in by October 17. The survey has a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, and its results included a broad sample of respondents that have not been weighted for likely voters.

Overall, the survey finds broader support for Biden from some demographic groups than former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received in 2016 exit polls. Among both men and white respondents overall, in particular, Biden’s backing in the UT Dallas survey is stronger. Fifty-four percent of men in the poll say they back Biden, compared to 41 percent who said they supported Clinton in a 2016 exit poll. Similarly, 44 percent of white respondents say they back Biden, compared to 37 percent who said they supported Clinton.

Read the rest at Vox.

244698_rgb_768Toluse Olorunnipa at The Washington Post: As Election Day nears, Trump ponders becoming one thing he so despises: A loser.

Trailing in the polls and with little time left to change the trajectory or closing themes of the presidential race, President Trump has spent the final days of the campaign complaining that the coronavirus crisis is getting too much coverage — and openly musing about losing.

Trump has publicly lamented about what a loss would mean, spoken longingly of riding off into the sunset and made unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud could cost him the election. He has sarcastically threatened to fire state officials if he doesn’t win and excoriated his rival Joe Biden as someone it would be particularly embarrassing to lose to.

“If I lose, I will have lost to the worst candidate, the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics,” Trump said at an Oct. 17 campaign rally in Janesville, Wis. “If I lose, what do I do? I’d rather run against somebody who’s extraordinarily talented, at least, this way I can go and lead my life.”

The president, who said at the same rally that “we’re not going to lose, we’re going to win,” has certainly not abandoned his showman’s approach to the campaign trail. But his unscripted remarks bemoaning a potential loss — and preemptively explaining why he might suffer one — offer a window into his mind-set as he barnstorms the country in an attempt to keep himself from becoming the one thing he so derisively despises: a loser.

Trump has told rallygoers he had the presidential race won until the pandemic hit, and he has accused media outlets of focusing on the ongoing health crisis to hurt him politically.

Read more at the WaPo.

Trump has also suggested at his rallies that he might have to leave the country if he loses. This is pretty wild but, at this point, anything is possible:


18 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Enheduanna says:

    Waiting on electricity here in ATL. We got socked pretty good around 4AM. Hope everyone is OK.

  2. reb57 says:

    So glad Dak is ok. I found this article to be thoughtful and helpful. I wonder what others here think: https://the.ink/p/how-to-block-an-autocratic-breakthrough

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Like you I am getting antsy these last few days. Hoping to be rid of the Trump Plague but too cynical to get my hopes too high.

    We need to urge every able bodied voter with commonsense to get in line on Tuesday and vote this horrible man OUT!

    Until then I expect interrupted sleep, a feeling of doom, and looking for a distraction to take my mind off it.

  4. Autumn says:

    I’m glad Dakinikat is OK.

    My anxiety about the election increases every day. I don’t watch TV news, but I check twitter constantly.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    LOL. Glenn Greenwald has left the Intercept because they wouldn’t let him publish Russian disinformation about Hunter Biden.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Link: https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/27/1990192/-Trump-s-Handwriting-Analyzed-By-Expert-in-1988

      Klein had presented our study group with a full page of Trump’s adult handwriting, with only his gender, age (about 40) and handedness(right), but without his signature which might identify him. We were all taken aback, having not seen anything quite like it before, and we each took a turn analyzing it. After this exercise, Klein revealed who the writer was and showed us Trump’s overly large, narcissistic signature (with which we are all too familiar now, as he loves to show it off when he signs bills). Klein began his analysis saying that Trump’s writing revealed his immense insecurity, aggressiveness and rigid inability to think and perceive the world accurately. He said Trump was grandiose, extremely narcissistic and paranoid, so much so that he considered him delusional. Moreover, Trump was unable to relate to other humans with any degree of emotional attachment or consideration. People to him were objects, only useful to feed his insatiable need for adoration and attention. In looking specifically at his signature, Klein explained that Trump’s rigidly angular letter connections formed what he called shark’s teeth, which is indicative of rage and the capacity for extremely aggressive, acting out behaviors.

      Now I should explain that Felix Klein was a very soft-spoken and mild-mannered gentleman in the old-school Viennese tradition. However, as he continued to speak, he became visibly upset and agitated which surprised me. Attempting to calm him, I said something to the effect that, since Trump was just a vulgar real estate developer, there was no need to get upset. He continued that Trump was a very dangerous individual, capable of all manner of criminal behavior and was a menace to society. He went on to say that Trump was hypo-manic and determined to get whatever he wanted, describing him as a “screaming locomotive running down the tracks without breaks,” adding, “and God help anyone who tries to stop him!” Once again I tried to talk him down without success, whereupon he stopped me in my tracks, with these unforgettable, exact next words: “I’ve probably examined well over 200,000 handwriting samples over more than 60 years and Trump’s writing is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. In fact, the only writing that comes to mind that is as bad is Charles Manson’s.”

    • NW Luna says:

      Could you point me to some studies on how handwriting analysis is a valid modality for assessing someone’s personality?

      • bostonboomer says:

        No. It’s not my thing. I just found the post interesting.

      • quixote says:

        To me, Dump’s handwriting looks like he’s trying really hard to make it look spiky and aggressive and massive.

        Somebody whose handwriting looked like that without all that visible effort behind it, I’m not sure it would mean much.

        But with the Dump, there’s a gut reaction to how hard he’s trying to look Bad. I’m not sure it’s wrong, even if it’s unscientific, to draw conclusions from that. In hindsight, even more so! 😆

        • bostonboomer says:

          Some people are self aware of how their signatures. Other handwriting is likely to be unself-conscious.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Really good cartoons, BB! That red wave especially.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Not good at all:

    Absentee ballots are taking longer to reach election offices in key swing states than in the rest of the country, new data shows, as the U.S. Postal Service rushes to deliver votes ahead of strict state deadlines.

    Over the past five days, the on-time rate for ballots in 17 postal districts representing 10 battleground states and 151 electoral votes was 89.1 percent — 5.9 percentage points lower than the national average. By that measure, more than 1 in 10 ballots are arriving outside the Postal Service’s one-to-three-day delivery window for first-class mail.

    Those delays loom large over the election: 28 states will not accept ballots that arrive after Election Day, even if they are postmarked before. Continued snags in the mail system could invalidate tens of thousands of ballots across the country and could factor into whether President Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden captures crucial battleground states and, ultimately, the White House.